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NOVEMBER 13, 2000 VOL. 156 NO. 19

Hot Spot
By MAGES RAMAKRISHNAN

  TRAVEL WATCH

The Little Things Count For a Lot in This Big City
Kuala Lumpur is famous for one, well, two big things—the Petronas Twin Towers, the world's tallest buildings.

Detour
The Selangor River still offers decent whitewater rafting just an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur.

Web Crawling
An online 'zine without an in-your-face marketing angle, this is a cultural site worth visiting.

Short Cuts
Getting around Kuala Lumpur has launched a bus service to shuttle visitors around the city's major landmarks.

Hot Spot
Visitors to Kuala Lumpur should be sure to check out Masjid India, the shopping square where many Malay and Indian residents head for traditional clothing, herbal cures and street food.

Travel Watch Archive Browse hundreds of Asian travel tips

Visitors to Kuala Lumpur should be sure to check out Masjid India, the shopping square where many Malay and Indian residents head for traditional clothing, herbal cures and street food. On weekends the square, which is named after the mosque at its heart, is flooded with families, and the air is fragrant with incense and spices and the sweet smell of jasmine garlands.

The Malay section is filled with stalls selling Korans, traditional medicines and Muslim robes and dresses. The biggest crowds form beside the stands offering Tongkat Ali, a traditional aphrodisiac. Made from the plant Eurycoma longifolia, the pills are said to increase sexual stamina and virility. Street vendors selling the substance, which is marketed under manly names like Fury and Champion, demonstrate the effectiveness of their brand by showing photographs of elderly Lotharios standing proudly beside their beaming teenage wives.

The Indian section is lined with rows of shops selling intricately embroidered silk saris, bangles, silverware, delicious (if massively rich) sweets and bindis—the dots women wear on their foreheads. Other shops offer spices for cooking and the latest videos and soundtracks from Bollywood. Some of the shops practice the art of henna, and you can have your hands done inexpensively.

Masjid India is also home to many restaurants and stalls selling north (naan bread and roti) and south (biriyani and dosai) Indian cuisine as well as Malay favorites like chicken rendang and roti canai. Located in downtown Kuala Lumpur, it's a great place to spend a morning or have a lunch date.

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